Mark Mitchell. Photo from Twitter

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Mark Mitchell, former Taft High School basketball coach and Wilberforce University men's basketball coach, passed away at 56. His impact on high school and college basketball in Cincinnati is remembered fondly by colleagues and players.

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CINCINNATI 鈥 Wilberforce University men’s basketball coach Mark Mitchell, who led the Taft High School boys basketball team to its first state championship, has died. Mitchell was 56 years old.

Mitchell, the father of Indiana Fever guard and former Ohio State star聽聽was the Wilberforce University men’s basketball coach the past four seasons. Wilberforce is an NAIA program in Wilberforce, Ohio (Greene County).

Withrow boys basketball coach Berdo Allen, a 1996 Taft graduate, said Mitchell made a significant impact on countless lives. Mitchell was assistant coach while Allen played at Taft.

“He was tough and loving at the same time,” Allen said. “It just took my breath away (hearing the news). He always said if ever needed anything to call him. His honesty got us prepared for the real world.”

Prior to Wilberforce, Mitchell returned to coach high school basketball in the Cincinnati area after he had been an Ohio State women’s basketball assistant coach for four seasons. Mitchell helped his daughter Kelsey become Ohio State鈥檚 first four-time All-American in women鈥檚 basketball among several other accolades. Kelsey Mitchell was selected by the Indiana Fever as the No. 2 overall selection in the聽

“As a program, we are devastated to hear of the passing of former assistant coach Mark Mitchell,” Ohio State women’s basketball head coach Kevin McGuff said in a statement to WCPO 9. “Mark was extremely dedicated to his family, friends and players. His passion for young people allowed him to positively shape the lives of so many who had to the privilege of playing for him. We mourn with Cheryl, Kelsey, Chelsea, Kevin, Cam and the extended family. Mark will always remain in our thoughts and prayers.”

Mark Mitchell led Taft to the聽聽in its first-ever state final appearance. Taft won 25 games that season and never lost to a team from the state of Ohio.

Indian Hill boys basketball coach Ricardo Hill said Mitchell’s contributions to high school basketball are very significant especially for Taft’s state championship. He said Taft’s basketball program had “remarkable” success in basketball and beyond thanks to Mitchell’s leadership.

“It’s a sad day for Cincinnati,” Hill said.

During Mitchell’s tenure at Taft, the Senators won eight Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference titles, nine sectional and four district titles and the state title. For his efforts, he was voted CMAC coach of the year eight times.

Mitchell turned around the Senators鈥 program instantly in his first year, going 22-3 and winning the city championship after inheriting a program coming off 10 consecutive losing seasons, according to his coaching biography.

“Coach Mark Mitchell was a motivational and inspirational coach that always shared his passion and energy with the students of CPS,” said Josh Hardin, Cincinnati Public Schools Athletics Manager.

“He was a different kind of coach, he was a state champion level coach that elevated the students and staff around him. “His presence in the basketball world and Cincinnati community will be sorely missed.”

Prior to his appointment at Taft, Mitchell served as an assistant coach at Winton Woods High School from 2001-03 where he helped the Warriors to a Division I state runner-up finish in 2002.

Former longtime La Salle basketball coach Dan Fleming was friends with Mitchell for many years.

“He was a big-hearted person who cared about his guys,” Fleming said. “It’s just a tremendous loss for basketball and Cincinnati specifically.”

Mitchell also coached at Western Hills for the 2018-19 season. He previously coached at Western Hills as a varsity boys basketball assistant and junior varsity head coach in 1997-98. He was the program鈥檚 varsity summer league head coach in 1997.

In addition to coaching, Mitchell worked as a physical education and health teacher at Taft (2003-13), Winton Woods (2002-03) and in the Lakota Schools from 1993-2002.

Mitchell, a 1985 Princeton High School graduate, was an offensive tackle on the Vikings’ 1983 Division I football state championship team. He later played at Eastern Kentucky University.

“He was a Princeton legend,” Allen said.

Reposted with permission from WCPO 9 Cincinnati.

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